In the shadow of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral hundreds of people flocked to Alexander Avenue for the annual Russian and Slavic Cultural Festival.
Arriving at the church guests were greeted by sights, smells and sounds that have become synonymous with this annual event. Volunteers dressed in traditional garb from their homeland while musicians strolled the grounds and took to the stage while dancers whirled and twirled in front of them.
As always one of the most popular features of the festival was the food tent. While people worked the grill the people in lines enjoyed a variety of traditional treats. From shish-ke-bob to stuffed cabbage and meat cutlets to dumplings and rice there was something for everyone. There was also a Russian Tea Room with what seemed to be an endless variety of sweet treats and traditional drinks to go along with them.
Father Seraphim Chemodakov, the assistant pastor at the church, said on a beautiful Sunday afternoon it was a great way to welcome new faces and familiar ones alike. “For us it’s just to get the word out about what the Russian culture is all about,” he said. “It also gives some insight to outsiders about what the Russian Orthodox Church looks like and sounds like like. It also gives the public a rare chance to view the beauty of Russian Orthodox iconography.”
Newcomers are always welcome but Father Seraphim said the event is also a chance for the older people to remember their younger days. “We do have quite a few people of the older generation that come from different parts of New Jersey that comment on the food, the atmosphere and how everything comes together.”
The festival was held the same weekend as the Egyptian Festival at Archangel Michael just down the road and Father Seraphim said that was a testament to what makes Howell a special place to be. “It really drives home the message that this part of Jersey really is very multicultural.”